Evidence, much like Missing, features a CD-ROM sent by the mysterious serial killer known only as “The Phoenix”. This CD was sent to the authorities, presumably by the Phoenix himself, and contains puzzles and clues and video clips about his latest escapades. This time around, the story once again features Jack Lorski, one of the principles of the previous investigation, trying to discover the Phoenix. It also focuses on Jessica Moses, who is trying to track down her missing brother who disappeared two years earlier. How these two seemingly divergent stories make up the tale of the Phoenix’s latest rash of killings is unknown, but perhaps the clues the Phoenix leaves will reveal all.
The game is divided into eight sections which each contains about 4 or 5 puzzles. Each time a puzzle is solved, a video clip showing details of Jack’s or Jessica’s adventure is played. Once all the puzzles in a section are solved, the next one is opened up. While some of these puzzles are fiendishly tough to solve, you are not alone in your investigation. In fact, you’ve got the entire ICPA (International Committee for the Phoenix Arrest) at your disposal. Throughout the game, they will contact you via email providing assistance in solving the puzzles and breaking new leads which may reveal the information you require. This breaking of the fourth wall really goes a long way to make it feel like you are actually part of an investigation and working with real people to stop this serial killer before he strikes again. Unfortunately, even with this assistance, I found myself requiring to look at a walkthrough from time-to-time, since there were moments that I simply could not advance with the answers.
The developers have learned a few things from Missing and have built a website dedicated to provide information, an option to join contact the other investigators (players) and even a filtered search engine. One of the complaints I had about Missing was that, as the game went out, a simple search would all too often reveal a walkthrough for the game as opposed to the desired website. The filtered search engine, while useful since it will ignore results with words such as “walkthrough” or “solution” and such, was too deeply buried to bother for me to use, instead relying on Google which, from time-to-time, provided spoiler-filled results. Perhaps, should this series continue (and I hope that it does!), a search engine built into the game itself will provide more use.
Unfortunately, some of the problems from the first game are still present. The game is still locked into a resolution of 800x600 and, since I am now using a monitor at a higher resolution then when I played the first game, is even more frustrating. The gameplay is forced into a small box at the center of the screen and does not stretch or scale to fit any resolution higher then that of 800x600. I found myself, all too often, changing my desktop resolution so that I could make out some of the small clues present in the puzzles. Some puzzles also require you to listen to sounds or audio clips to scan for a clue, which makes this game virtually impossible for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Visual cues and subtitles for the video would be a nice addition to allow for a great audience.
Despite some of the issues, and the difficulty of some of the puzzles, I really enjoyed the game. The acting in the video clips was excellent and the atmosphere created by the game, the websites, and the haunting emails, really immersed me into the investigation. The fourth wall was not just broken, it was obliterated entirely, and I hope that this sort of reality-bending adventure is something we will be seeing much more of in the future.